Monster Mining

Early mining engineers face an incredible amount of challenges to make technological advances that would help make mining safer for human beings. They had to figure out the how to compete with flooding, heat, and ventilation issues. They eventually did come up with complex and technological systems that kept up with basic biological needs (Between the Heavens and the Earth, 38). In California, miners managed to extend the life of “placer mines” by creating dams in creeks or rivers to build up a lot of water pressure and used that to create hydraulic mining. Though effective, this technique took a heavy toll on California’s environment. Hydraulic mining washed away thousands of acres of forest and soil (39). Silt created by the mines also hurt rivers, blocking them and destroying fisheries, and destroying good farmland by coating them with sand and gravel. Another advance came when Hearst used a steam powered pump to help with hard rock mining, and also the square set timbering method that prevented the mines from collapsing in on miners.

Everyone knows that mining is dangerous to the environment, both when the mine is operating and after it closes. The negative effects of the mining process should be addressed so that they can try and figure out how to stop those problems before they arise, or at least keep the damage minimal. During the process, the unforeseen problems should be addressed to the public. Afterwards, the remaining problems should also be addressed and they should brainstorm ideas to stop the problems. I don’t believe mining will ever truly be safe for humans or the environment. I think there are too many environmental problems that arise from mining to be able to fully fix them. I also believe there are too many risks for humans, accidents happen and no technology is foolproof.


1 thought on “Monster Mining”

  1. The problem we face in identifying potential problems with mines is the people who run them are pretty good at denying there is damage until too late, and then they usually still deny it. When you consider the fortunes made from mining, it’s easy to see why companies are willing to turn a blind eye until it’s too late. Technology may allow us to get to the minerals but does that give us free license to actually do it. With such a high potential environmental cost, there needs to be a very serious assessment and discussion about the benefits prior to a mine opening. For instance, do we really need a gold mine just outside Yellowstone Park and uphill from the Yellowstone River? Gold is nice, but is it going to advance public welfare enough to justify the potential downside of getting it out of the ground?

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